India opener Mayank Agarwal, who scored his fourth Test hundred on Day 1 of India vs New Zealand second and final Test match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, explained how suggestions from the legendary Sunil Gavaskar helped him improve his batting. Agarwal was going through a lean patch by his standards and there were question marks about his place in the side too but the right-hander gave a solid response on Friday. Agarwal remained unbeaten on 120 as India reached 221 for 4 at stumps on Day 1.
The opening batter said Gavaskar, before the Mumbai Test, had told him to consider keeping the bat low at the start of his innings. Agarwal has a tendency to keep a high backlift which at times, especially against the swinging ball, has brought about his downfall.
“He told me that I should consider keeping the bat a bit low initially in my innings. I have a tendency to hold it high. I couldn’t make that adjustment in this short period of time,” Agarwal said in a virtual press conference.
The 30-year-old said he tried to copy Gavaskar’s stance when the former India captain was giving a demonstration. “When he was saying, I noticed his shoulder position and basically picked up that I need to be more side on,” he said.
Gavaskar on the day during his commentary session also spoke about how he had advised Agarwal to reduce his pronounced back-lift into a shorter one.
On the day, he hit four sixes off left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who was New Zealand’s best bowler by a distance with four wickets to his name.
He said that it was a “conscious decision”.
“He was bowling exceedingly well. But each time anything was in our half (our arc), the plan was to be a bit more attacking. Anything that came a little towards us in length, we were going to go for it.
“He had that phase when he tied us down, so it was a conscious decision to make it count when we could or each time he bowled it in our spot,” he explained.
For Agarwal, this innings was more about “grit and determination” and he was prepared to look ugly as long as he got results.
“That is something I have thought about, but this innings was more about grit and determination, just to stick with the plan, be disciplined. I know I didn’t look good sometimes but I got the job done,” he said.
India hasn’t still reached a commanding score and Agarwal reckoned that the first session on Saturday will be crucial.
“How we start is crucial, the focus is that. The first session we want to play it out, the wicket is going to get harder and harder to bat on.”
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